Pituitary Gland: What is it? Function, Hypothalamus, Related Diseases and Pituitary Surgery

It is about the size of a pea and is located in a bony hole, just behind the bridge of your nose. It is attached to the base of your brain by a thin stem.


The hypothalamus, which controls the pituitary by sending messages, is located immediately above the pituitary gland.

The pituitary gland is usually called the master gland in medical terms because it controls multiple and diverse hormonal functions in the body, including the thyroid and the adrenal glands, the ovaries and the testes.

The hypothalamus

It is a part of the brain that functions as a communications center for the pituitary gland fuses with this gland to perform a set of procedures, one of them is sending messages or signals to the pituitary gland in the form of hormones that travel through from the bloodstream and the nerves by the pituitary stalk .

These actions control the production and release of other hormones of the pituitary gland that signal other glands and organs in the body, not only acts the hypothalamus but other parts of the brain also join in these processes.

The hypothalamus influences the functions of regulating body temperature, food intake, signs of thirst or lack of water, sleep and wake patterns, emotional behavior and memory.

Problems with the pituitary gland

The most common problem with the pituitary gland occurs when a benign tumor develops (used to describe a “growth”), also called an adenoma.

Pituitary tumors are not “brain tumors.”

The term benign is used by doctors to describe a swelling that is not cancerous. Some pituitary tumors may exist for years without causing symptoms.

Most pituitary tumors occur in people who do not have a family history of pituitary problems and the condition is usually not passed down from generation to generation. Only tumors are occasionally inherited, for example, in a condition known as multiple endocrine neoplasia .

Likewise, the most common type of tumor (approximately half of all cases) is the “non-functioning” tumor.

Seals Syndrome or ESS

It is a disorder that involves the ‘sella turca’, a bony structure at the base of the brain that surrounds and protects the pituitary gland.

This syndrome was detected long ago in a space called the sella turcica, which is a corner of the skull where the pituitary is located.

There are two types of ESS, primary and secondary. It is important to mention both on the one hand is the primary ESS that happens when a minimal anatomical defect on the pituitary gland increases the pressure in the sella turcica and causes the gland to become crushed, affecting the areas surrounding this condition.

The pituitary gland may be smaller than normal.

Primary ESS may be associated with obesity and high blood pressure in women. The function of the pituitary gland is usually normal and may be an incidental finding when a brain MRI is performed for other reasons.

The secondary ESS is the result of regression of the pituitary gland within the cavity after injury, surgery or radiotherapy.

People with secondary ESS may have symptoms that respond to loss of pituitary functions, for example, loss of periods, infertility, fatigue and intolerance to stress and infection.

In children, ESS may be associated with early puberty, growth hormone deficiency, and pituitary tumors.

Sheehan syndrome

Sheehan syndrome is also known as postpartum hypopituitarism , or postpartum pituitary insufficiency, and occurs in women who have severe uterine bleeding during delivery.

The resulting severe blood loss causes the death of the tissue in your pituitary gland and leads to hypopituitarism after birth.

If a woman’s pituitary gland is deprived of blood because she bleeds heavily or in abundance during labor, the gland may lose its ability to function properly.

Conditions that increase the risk of obstetric hemorrhage include multiple pregnancies (twins or triplets) and abnormalities of the placenta.

The blood tests would establish the hormonal levels and a scan to rule out other abnormalities of the pituitary, as a tumor this would be done as a prevention to these mentioned conditions.

Pituitary surgery

Many pituitary problems are caused by a benign tumor and, often, an operation is the best option, and surgical methods continuously improve the functioning of the person to be treated. We can assure you that the surgery performed by a specialist neurosurgeon is safe and a relatively simple procedure.

So the side effects are minimal specifically in this medical process. Most tumors are removed by making a small incision inside the nostril or below the upper lip.

This surgery is called ‘ transsphenoidal surgery ‘. By using this route, the surgeon can see your pituitary gland without disturbing the main part of your brain. The operation will usually require about five days in the hospital and should be up and about the day after surgery, and eat normally and hydrated.

For one or two days you will be given intravenous drugs administered by professionals in this area and you can also be given antibiotics to prevent any infection in your nose.

Recovery times vary by individual, with an average of perhaps four to eight weeks without work, if employed. Occasionally, pituitary tumors need other surgical approaches and for this and to obtain more detailed information with your doctor of preference.